Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly 24 February 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 28, 2012

Presidential antics

Those who coined the expression “ You can’t have your cake and eat it” have probably never been in Mauritius. That’s exactly what we do and the State House these days is a perfect illustration of it. Since the breakup of the government coalition, the State House has lost even the little veneer of neutrality it had. First we had the various sessions of koze kozé between the leader of the opposition ostensibly to discuss electoral reform, something which both must have since regretted as it backfired, what with the Best Loser System on the one hand and Proportional Representation on the other which would have wiped out some parties. We brushed the koze kozé under the carpet as something the president is allowed to do. After all, there is nothing in the constitution to prevent a president from meeting the leader of the opposition. Except that we knew what they were in really talking about.

Then we started having union leaders going straight to the State House to discuss union issues. Fair enough – though the president should not be involved in policy making, he is not just a ribbon cutter either. Then we had the various instances where the president came out in the open, criticizing the lack of security in the country; something which coincided with his son leaving office. Then the comments about the ICAC, again strangely coinciding with the son’s arrest. Still alright.

After all, decorum is not something you can impose on anyone.

Today, however, we are in a different situation. We are not talking about rumour any more. We are talking about serious matters. We are talking about a political party holding a secret ballot to decide whether to opt for a remake of an MMM- MSM alliance with the current president as future prime minister! In such a case scenario, there are only two possibilities: either the leader of the opposition is taking all his followers and the nation at large for a ride by getting his members to vote on a proposal involving two parties, one of whom – the president- is unaware of the whole business. Or the president has agreed to the proposal while enjoying all the trimmings of the State House and supposedly enhancing our democracy by being above party politics.

I can’t decide which one of these is a worse blow to our democracy.

More than the lack of decorum, which we have by now got used to, what with the president’s frequent tantrums and the instances of sap lor kal, which we have become complacent about, it is the arrogance of the presidency which is intolerable. It is tantamount to saying, “ I do what I like and do about it what you like.” This state of affairs is harming the reputation of the country both at home and abroad and eating into whatever institutional decency we had left after the long sequence of corruption and disgraceful public spectacles that we have witnessed lately. More than that, it is sending a very dangerous signal to all other institutions further down the hierarchy that respecting our constitution is farcical and at best a cold virtue . Either SAJ is in the political arena and therefore he has to resign or he is the president he is paid to be and he should give urgent proof that he is above party politics. If he can have his cake and eat it, let’s stop talking about democracy. And please spare us your talk about reform, the greater good of the nation and what not. We are frankly not impressed.

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